Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The partners at boutique agency Verve have set a high bar for promoting agents. This is the same gang that promoted assistant Zach Carlisle at partner Adam Levine’s house, where Carlisle was told to go to build a swing set on a hot summer weekend day. And before Carlisle got good news, he was subjected to a career intervention by partners Bryan Besser and Bill Weinstein, and then coaxed into a karaoke rendering of “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places.” When the Verve partners promoted Rob Herting, they enlisted clients and Red scribes Jon & Erich Hoeber and Summit production chief Erik Feig, and staged a bogus meeting forcing staffers to come up with a new title to pitch for the sequel.

So what did they come up with when they decided to promoted coordinator Melissa Solomon? The partners staged a tour of Verve’s new offices for the whole company. In the lobby, they announced a competition called “Do you have what it takes??!” Solomon was selected to be the first contestant and her category was “Do You have what it takes to be….an agent?” She was shown four doors, and had to answer a question from each partner before getting to open doors that contained an ingredient necessary to becoming a successful agent. Weinstein quizzed her about the importance of the power lunch; Besser grilled her on decision-making in a hypothetical client crisis; Levine offered a riddle for her to solve. After Solomon crushed the tests, and won an iPhone, cordless headset, power dress and Amex Business card, she was promoted to agent. It has been a long journey for Solomon, who grew up around the entertainment business and worked at Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann through high school and college. She graduated Tulane and got a law degree before coming back and working in the motion picture lit department at ICM before moving to Verve in 2010 and being promoted to coordinator a year later.

From my vantage point, forcing Carlisle to build the swing set on a hot summer weekend day, and giving him an intervention, is still the high bar. I’ve also heard that this isn’t uncommon during the hazing process at agencies, inflicted on assistants who don’t get promoted. Can anybody recall the most awful tasks that agents have assigned to assistants over the years?

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